Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Painting my DNA - Happy DNA Day!

Happy DNA Day!  I've posted before about mapping out which segments of my chromosomes could be attributed to specific ancestors.  But there's a new tool out which makes doing this even more straightforward!  Check out DNA Painter.
My Painted DNA Segments, April 2018

I have a lot of relatives who have tested.  (If you're a relative of mine and you haven't tested and want to, please email me!)  For each one for which I know our common ancestors, I can attribute shared DNA segments to those common ancestors.  (I only use common segments of 10cM or more to try to account for endogamy, at least a bit; the default is 7cM.)  DNA Painter tells me that so far I have attributed 73% of my genome to specific ancestors.  As additional relatives test, this number should rise.
Drilling into Chromosome 1
DNA Painter is interactive.  You can click on a chromosome to get more information on which relative helped to paint a specific segment.  Note that the tools paints both your maternal and paternal sides.  Sometimes multiple cousins share the same segments, but some cousins are more distant than others.  Looking near the center of my maternal chromosome 1, you can see that the same area was attributed to my cousins Shimon, Helen and Ron.  Shimon is my mother's first cousin, so our shared DNA can be attributed to my great grandparents.  Helen is my grandmother's first cousin, so our shared DNA can be attributed to my great-great grandparents.  DNA Painter will paint Helen's shared segments on top of Shimon's.  And Ron is descended from my great-great-great grandparents.  So his (red) segment) will go on top of Helen's and Shimon's, since the DNA I share with him can be attributed to those furthest-back ancestors.  (The tool gives a key of all pairs of ancestors; you can drag the order so that the furthest-back ancestors are the highest on the list.)

So what do you need to do to use DNA Painter?  If your DNA is at Ancestry, you'll need to move it to another platform which gives shared segment information.  Those include, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage.  (You should consider moving to all 3 to maximize your number of potential matches.)  If your DNA is already at one of those sites, you're good to go.  You need to have relatives with whom who know your common ancestors at the same sites.  And then you add them to your DNA Painter profile.  DNA Painter has help articles here that can help you figure out how to start.

DNA Painter can be very useful when you get a good match.  You can look at that segment on your DNA Painter profile and hopefully it will be on a segment to which you've attributed a specific ancestor or ancestor couple.  That can help you zero on in how you are potentially related.
My Mother's Painted Genome

You can also have multiple profiles if you have tested many people.  For example, I've painted my parents' chromosomes as well as those of my aunts, uncles, grandmother and great-aunt.  And it's pretty straightforward to change between profiles.

So get painting!  And happy DNA Day!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. I am SO bad at these things. I tried DNA Painter and just ended up staring at all the pretty colors, having no idea what it all meant. And I only have about six relatives to chart!

    1. Check out the help section. It's pretty good, and once you figure it out, DNA Painter is very straightforward to use.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I can't wait to try it out.